More than half of children in war-torn Syria are missing out on education, the UN children’s agency UNICEF says, with a third of schools in ruins or commandeered by fighters.
The figures are a sharp rise from previous estimates when UNICEF said a third of Syrian children are out of school.
“After almost ten years of war in Syria, more than half of children continue to be deprived of education,” UNICEF says in a statement, estimating there are over 2.4 million children out of school inside the country.
“This number has likely increased in 2020 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which exacerbated the disruption to education in Syria,” says Ted Chaiban, UNICEF’s chief for the Middle East and North Africa, alongside Syria crisis boss Muhannad Hadi, in a joint statement.
“The education system in Syria is overstretched, underfunded, fragmented and unable to provide safe, equitable and sustained services to millions of children,” they add.
Syria’s civil war erupted in 2011 after the violent repression of protests, quickly spiraling into a complex conflict that pulled in numerous actors, including jihadist groups and foreign powers.
Over 387,000 people have been killed, and more than half of Syria’s pre-war population of 20 million have been forced to flee their homes.